January 1st and January 2nd.
Puerto Montt to Ancud, Chiloé Island and Onward to Puñihuil.
Road: Ruta 5 south to the ferry at Pargua is a paved highway. The toll is 550 pesos per bike. Take exit to Pargua (Ruta 5 continues) to find the boat. There is a paved two-lane road to the ferry ramp. You pay for the ferry on board, cash only, 7500 pesos, and the crossing takes about 40 minutes.
The paved two-lane road continues with signs to Castro and Ancud.
The 30 minute ride to Ancud through rolling hills and hedgerows follows another road in good condition, traffic is very light but we rode on New Years Day and it was a Sunday.
Coastal road to Puñihuil is paved two-lane road, in good condition though it becomes rather narrow closer to the beach. You cross a small river, not deep, then ride on hard packed sand to parking areas of boats. Look out for cattle on road and traffic in middle of road.
The bigger danger is wind gusts in exposed areas that will blow a bike right across the road. Can’t think of any technique to counter that except riding at a slower speed when traffic is approaching.
Ancud is a small town of wooden buildings on several hills overlooking a beach and the open ocean to the west. Next stop New Zealand. Houses freshly painted or faded in an artist’s palette of random primary colors. Roses are in every garden, as in all Patagonia. We dumped our bags at the hotel and took the road to Puñihuil.
It was a pretty ride with scenery like Devon or Cornwall; rolling hills cleared for grazing with hedgerows and woodlands between, green green green. Wildflowers cram the roadside; roses crowd the gardens of small homesteads, but agriculture still conspicuously absent. Cattle are king here.
Road suddenly ends at a river, not deep, we ford that standing on pegs on to the sand. Wondered how 800lbs on 2 wheels would deal with that, I was ready to bail off if bike sank and fell. No problems, it’s hard.
Semi rigid inflatable boats with large outboards take tourists out to the islands to see penguins, cormorants and all manner of other birdies that we do not know. The tours are a low-key business operated by locals. There are no jetties, the boats are pulled close to the beach and paying customers are carefully loaded with a rolling cart so everyone has dry feet.
During the 30 minute ride and we see masses of penguins. Dominic took lots of pictures, though trying to capture a small bird through a zoom lens while your boat bobs up and down in the water is no easy task. Most of the pictures were quite blurry, but we managed to salvage a few.
The restaurant on the beach has decent local seafood and we take lunch. No penguin on the menu…
After sightseeing, it was back to Ancud for a local dish unique to Chiloé known as Curanto. Supposedly one of the ingredients is dirt. Yum.
January 2nd was a reverse of previous rides, we took Ruta 5 back to Frutillar, then secondary paved roads to Entre Lagos for the night. It rained hard all day, so we arrived a bit wet but safe.
We looked at the weather for the pass to Argentina. 2 degrees Celsius and snow possible, plus a three-hour wait to clear customs and do paperwork for vehicles. Now that England has decided to leave EU that’s something the Brits can look forward to every time they cross a border in Europe.
We draw the line there and decide to bail on the last 2 days and return to Valpairaiso for some sun. It’s been a long time since we saw much of that.
So that’s the ride, 14 days and about 1000 miles.
Hope you enjoyed riding along.
As requested, here are a bunch more pictures….